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Last updated on September 2, 2023
Oslob is one of the most popular snorkeling spots in the world, but also one of the most controversial. At this location, whale sharks have been fed by guides and fishermen for 15 years to attract tourists and sell tours. This practice has several harmful consequences on the marine fauna, and we do not recommend supporting the industry. If you still want to go there by yourself, here’s the necessary advice.
The whale shark interaction area is just off Barangay Tan-awan, a small village located about 7 miles/10 kilometers south of Oslob. The experience is regulated and you will need to book a tour through one of the many agencies in the area to get there. It is not allowed to reach the snorkel area by swimming from the shore.
The cost of the whale shark tours is 2000 pesos per person for non-residents (2023 rate). Some companies also offer day tours from Moalboal (where there are very good snorkeling spots, such as Panagsama Beach and White Beach) or Cebu.
Try to come very early, as the site is most of the time crowded. After a briefing on the whale shark interaction guidelines, your guide will take you to the snorkeling area aboard a small boat. Most whale sharks are encountered 50 meters from the beach.
You will enter the water from your boat.
Oslob whale shark watching is a very controversial activity because the whale sharks are fed by the guides to prevent them from migrating. In addition to modifying their natural behavior and changing their migratory patterns, sharks suffer from poor nutrition and are exposed to human interactions.
Hundreds of snorkelers and divers visit this spot every day, many of them breaching the guidelines and touching the sharks, as guides do to prevent the sharks from bumping their boats. Collisions with boats are frequent, and many sharks show signs of infection and lesions.
If you still decide to visit this spot, you will snorkel in a 15 to 22 feet/5 to 7-meter-deep area. Underwater visibility is usually great, particularly in the morning when the site is still not totally chaotic.
Oslob features an impressive density of whale sharks, with dozens of individuals gathering here in a very small area.
Observation guidelines impose keeping a distance of 9 feet/3 meters from the sharks, but these often approach much closer to the boats and snorkelers, as they are fed between the outrigger and the hull of the boats. The whale shark is the biggest fish in the sea and can measure up to 32 to 40 feet/10 to 12 meters in length, and is truly impressive.
Snorkeling with whale sharks in Oslob lasts approximately 30 minutes. Pay attention to the many boats and snorkelers around you to avoid any collisions or fin strokes.
In the small village (Barangay) of Tan-awan, you will find many budget accommodations and restaurants.
These spots are accessible to anyone with basic snorkeling skills, and feeling comfortable in the water and with his snorkeling gear. You will enter the water from the shore (beach, pontoon, ladder, rocks) or from a boat. The water height in the sea entrance area is reasonable, but you will not necessarily be within your depth. Moderate currents can occur in the area, even when the sea conditions are good. The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas of the spot does not exceed 200 meters.
This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.
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